Dying Dwarf Carnation

KuzihJune 4, 2011

About a week ago, I over watered my dwarf carnation plant. I wrapped it in some paper towels today, let some of the water get soaked up about three times and then placed it on top of it's pot to let the soil dry out. Which was something that was suggested to me.

I am not sure but it might be over sunned or under sunned, but I am having trouble telling. It was in north facing sun for about two weeks about 10 feet from the window, but then about a week ago I switched it to east facing sun thinking it was getting too much sun when I was obviously over watering it.

Finally, I left it on my counter tops and last night a naughty kitty got to it. (They never or so I thought jump up there, I thought it was safe.) Made them sick, but they are fine... my plant not so much.

If anyone has any advice on how I can save my plant, I would really appreciate it. I got it for my very first wedding anniversary in mid-May and so it has some sentimental value.

Here are a couple pictures:



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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Probably too late to salvage.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Aw sorry to hear that this plant that you have sentimental ties to isn't doing well.
I don't think too much sun was the problem. In the northern hemisphere, generally a North facing window gives plants the least amount of direct sun, then East, then West, then South is generally the warmest and sunniest location (assuming no trees outdoors shading the window of course).
Often plants will wilt if they are overwatered because being in too much water will make the roots rot, so wilting doesn't always mean it is too dry.

I am not an expert in dianthus so I don't know if this plant can be saved or not. Sometimes plants do better outdoors where they can get more light and humidity than they do in a normal home. As a last ditch effort, I might try to put the pot out in a shady area outdoors (shady because if it is used to being inside a sudden change to full sun outdoors might be too much for it at first). Plants in containers outdoors in the summer tend to dry out a lot faster than plants inside do so that might help it with the overwatering issue. I'd suggest checking the soil with your finger on a daily basis and water it when the soil feels dry to you. Maybe that will help it recover if that's still possible. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Thank you for the advice. The roots are still white, though some are starting to get a slight brown color. So, I think the roots are still good.

I will try your advice and stick it outside once the rain lets up. And again, I appreciate the advice, thank you.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 4:35PM
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Kuzih. Growing Carnations indoors aren't easy.

Would you happen to know if it's an annual or perrenial Carnation?

Either way, Carnations need good light and fresh air. Your plant would do better outside, or better yet, in the garden.

In case you lose your plant, cut a section with faded bloom/s off and place in-between a book or in plastic. If you have a photo book, insert between plastic with a little note of the date/month/year it was given to you. Belated Happy Anniversary. Toni

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 1:14AM
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Thank you for the information. I will keep that in mind next time, and I will do a keep sake if the plant doesn't make it. I wish I had kept one of the blooms from earlier.

Unfortunately, it rained again during the night and watered the plant further, so I don't think it's going to make it.

I have a fern that is doing well, which I kept the carnation on the same water schedule as the fern. I am still new to keeping plants in general, so sadly I made this mistake on an important plant.

If anyone has any suggestions on plants that an amateur should keep indoors, I would appreciate them. As stated before I have north and east light, and would probably prefer a plant that doesn't mind it's soil to dry out slightly before being watered again.

Thank you Summer and Hopeful for your advice. You are very kind to offer the advice and I really do appreciate it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:01AM
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Hi Kuzih...How old is your fern and which window is it in?

There are quite a few plants that will grow in an east window, and many in north.

Ever hear of Sanseviera/Mother-in-Laws-Tongue? There are other species, it doesn't have to be the Mothers..They do well in semi-low-light, and better off neglected..
Most die from too much water.

Do you keep curtains/blinds? As I said there are many plants that do well in an east exposure, but if you use heavy drapery or keep blinds closed during the day, an artificial plant would do.. :)

Are you familiar with names? A Spider Plant/Chlorophytum would work in an east or north, 'if north is bright.' And there are a variety of colors to choose from.

Some succulents would do fine in your east.

Philodendrons, Peace Lily, etc.
You said plants that don't mind drying slightly. Most of my plants' soil dries before getting a drink. Over-watering is the number 1 plant killer. Of course, I don't know your inturpretation of 'slightly,' lol.

Watering by schedule isn't a good idea. It depends on the type of plant, soil, pot size and temp. So, if someone says, water once a week..they're giving you bad advice. If the soil is moist, and given more water, there's a risk of root rot.

I assumed your Carnation was indoors but you said it rained..lol..Do you have a garden? If so, hardy Carnations die back, but should return..possiby this year, definately next.

Is there any plants you're familiar with you'd like to add? Toni

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 12:27PM
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A lot of information to take in and I thank you for it.

My east light is shaded by a tree. My north light is unshaded and therefore my most lighted position. I keep the blinds open between 9am and 9pm (depending on the season gets dark here around 6-7pm in the winter and 9-10 in the summer) due to my cats liking to lay in the sunshine.

My fern is called on the tag a "Fluffy Ruffles Fern" or "Nephrolepis Exaltata." It spends most of it's time in my kitchen facing the east shaded sun, and once or twice a month I put it in the bedroom with the north sun because I feel it gets more light in there. I will also place it outside when the weather is permitting, but that is the east facing as well.

My idea of drying soil is about dry soil to about the first knuckle of my index finger or my nail in general. I worry about any Lily plant as some are poisonous to animals and my cats have a problem with eating my greenery. They have surprised me to the lengths which they will go to get a plant so a hanging plant is usually best. I have thought about a spider plant, but have not been able to find one at my local stores as of yet.

The carnation is getting yellow, but it has not turned to brittle ie breaking at being touched or being too dry. It still has some life in it and the roots are slightly brown to white. The only plant I had before this was a "Golden Pothos" if I recall. It lived for several years before I moved away and gave it to a friend. I have been thinking about getting another.

I do not have a garden. Actually my backyard is so shaded that it's hard to grow even grass there. Any suggestions on how I could manage to bring the carnation back would be appreciated, even if that means it living outside permanently. Sadly, our weather in central California is erratic right now. Normally in June it's rather warm, but we are experiencing rain and temps between 55-65 degrees, which is normally April or May weather.

Thank you for your advice.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:40AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"I kept the carnation on the same water schedule as the fern ..."

As others have said carnations are difficult to grow indoors. If you do a bit of Googling you will see that ferns and carnations require very different conditions regarding light, moisture and soil. Carnations need lots of light, good drainage and prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil. As an indoor potplant they are really only temporary decoration. You may not have a 'garden' but you say you have a yard. I would find the sunniest spot I could and put the carnation there either in the ground or in a pot of fast draining potting mix. Gradually introduce it to the outdoors by putting it out for increasing lengths of time each day. I think it is saveable although it definitely looks overwatered.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 6:16AM
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Kuzih. I agree with Flora UK. Since you have a yard, place your Carnation in a pot w/well=draining soil.
If it's hardy, and not too-far gone, it should return..Since you see green and some white roots, parts are still alive. It's possible you won't see new growth until next year..it depends.
Carnations prefer cooler temps. Placing it outdoors now won't cause harm. They dislike heat.

Although Carnations are outdoor plants, stores sell them in ornate pots or wrapped in foil as Short-Lived plants for holidays. Especially Mother's Day and Easter.
They do the same with Tulips, Mums and other plants. To stores, it's a money maker.

Fluffy Ruffle is a beautiful fern. It sounds like yours is doing well.

Check 'Cat Fancy' website. They have a list of toxic plants. I used to subscribe to their magazine, but cancelled after my 17-yr-old cat went to kitty heaven. Every so often they'd add toxic plants in the magazine. Now this information can be found online.
Or you can Google 'toxic plants, cats.' A list of poisonous plants will pop up.

The sad thing is there are a good number of common plants considered toxic. I was looking at a list last week and was surprised by the number..We have four birds and two dogs..after reading the site, I discovered 80%+ of my plants are toxic!!

I'm surprised the stores by your home doesn't sell Spider Plants. Have you tried Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc?

There is a Trade Forum here on GW. Although you have nothing to trade, perhaps someone will send you Spider shoots for postage.

How about adding shelves high up on your windows? They're inexpensive, and easy to install.
African Violets are non-toxic and produce the prettiest flowers. Most stay small, so space won't be a problem.

Unless your cats jump on the shelves, there shouldn't be any problems. BTW, how many cats do you have?

Ironic. It's been in the high 90's since last week. Last night we had a major T-storm..the breeze was refreshing. Today, it's 70...I'm freezing..lol..The ground is pure mud.

One more thing..about your yard. An east exposure, outdoors, is a lot brighter than your east window. Low or medium light plants can burn facing east. You'd be surprised. Toni

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:33PM
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Thank you for all the information and suggestions.

I have gone to Walmart and a couple other stores looking for a spider plant, but have not found one. Lowes and Home Depot are not stores that I frequent, but I will check there.

The plant has dried out a bit but so has the soil and the roots still look good. It is getting rather warm and I worry about the plant being outside, plus it has attracted some aphids as well as my garlic plants that I have out there. I read about using 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tbsp of liquid dishwashing soap. Add 1 1/2 tsp. solution per cup of warm water to a handheld spray bottle. Not sure, if I want to use that however.

We have been having some erratic weather as well. Rained all weekend was 60 degrees, then the passed two days jumped up to 90 degrees.

I have three cats all 10+ years old and one dog. I could have sworn my cats do not jump onto counters, but they recently proved me wrong. Apparently, they are just really good at jumping down when they hear me coming. I should probably look into shelves that I can hang on the wall, which would probably help the process.

Now that I know I should check the soil and not bother at all with schedules, I believe that I will do better with my next plant. I just need to research and make sure a plant is appropriate for indoor living. I know no plant is meant for the indoors, but some do better then others. I'll try to find a spider plant and some African violets as well.

I love my fern, but I would like a flowering plant as well. I will steer clear of holiday/temporary plants in the future. Thank you both for your information.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:10PM
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